Tag Archives: yard work

The day I gave completely up

This may sound kind of spoiled to a few of you, but it’s a slice of the author life. My prime writing time has always been mornings. This applies to all endeavors in life. If you want me at my best, catch me early. This works at the paycheck job and everywhere else.

My tree trimming insists on getting done in the morning. This is a matter of necessity, because of the heat. You can see this shaping up to be a struggle.

I got up early and tackled HMS Lanternfish. It’s now over 11,000 words and growing. Today was never going to be a super productive one, because I talk to my parents every Sunday. After that, I tackled the tree… again.

With my brand new blade on the Sawsall, I sallied forth. Thirty minutes later, I’d managed to cut one branch about the size of a half-dollar. What the hell! My goal was to chunk these up into manageable sizes, removing weight until I reached the break. This way the final cut wouldn’t cause more damage.

I gave up on plan A, and tackled the big cut. This thing was smoking before I finally managed the cut, and there is still one more to do. Some minor branches got broken in the big event, so I got out the ladder and a hand saw. It seemed to work faster than the damned electronic thing did. While I was up there, I salvaged some nice high fruit.

Old What’s Her Face came home from work and helped me load my truck. I was nearly there… until she said, “The dump is closed today. You can just do it tomorrow.” That’s when I lost it. I’ve given up my morning every single day of this vacation for this stupid project. Now I have to give up even more time to finish it.

She reminded me that she’s off Tuesday, which isn’t ideal for my productivity. I wanted to go through the roof, but resisted. Essentially, I lost Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I don’t begrudge her a day off, it’s just the way things happen. I decided the damned residue could sit in my truck until Tuesday, and I’d haul it off then.

If you remember the heat, my garage smells like peach schnapps now, and I don’t care. I’ll deal with it Tuesday, but I’m going to do my thing – for me – tomorrow. (And I’m going to drink tonight. The hard stuff.)

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Make a plan, work the plan

This post poses a conundrum for me, because it could fit into Story Empire, too. It winds up here, because it’s partially about my vacation plans. This one is another stay-cation for me. I want to write and just get some down time.

I’ve gotten to a place in writing where I can get a lot done, and there are a few tricks involved. These take time to farm, but harvesting them really speeds things up. First, I have about six storyboards going at all times. This doesn’t leave me pondering what I might write next. This is a common problem among fiction writers. Think of this like a farm, because it’s a long term project. Some boards are complete, others are partially complete, and some are just a collection of loose notes on index cards. Whenever a decent idea hits me, I make an index card and add it to the appropriate board. (Or start a new one.) Today, when I finish one project, I can dive right into the next one.

Next is my Pinterest app. I don’t know too many authors who use Pinterest, because all of the focus is on promotion. I don’t tend to use it like that. I have character boards, setting boards, and more specific ones like Pirates, or The Hat. When I surf through them, I get a lot of inspiration for my stories. It’s nice to refer to when describing a visual aspect of a tale.

Third is my new concept of more than one story at a time. I’m learning that it’s possible, and super productive. My current theory is to make them very different stories. Character traits don’t seem to bleed over this way, and character arcs don’t get muddled because the stories are so different.

My vacation starts tomorrow, and won’t return me to the office until next Thursday. Now I need some kind of plan.

  • I need to cut down a significant portion of my peach tree. This isn’t productive on the writing front, but works well on the staying married front.
  • Hauling the tree residue away has to be part of this mix, and is a chore in itself.
  • I need to buy and read one book. This one is a short read, and ought to work well for me. Then there are reviews to post on multiple fronts, too. Copy and paste helps here.
  • HMS Lanternfish hasn’t even set sail yet. It’s time to stock her with pirates and supplies, then hit the open sea. I’d love to get 30,000 words down, but 20K might be more realistic.
  • I need to get some blog posts written for The Viral Blues. It will be release time before I know it, and I want to be ready. Might hit up some of my favorite hosts to check their availability during my break, too.
  • There is a loose plan for some group promo at Story Empire. I need to dedicate some thought to that, and see what kind of posts I might need.
  • I have the formatted manuscript for Viral Blues in hand. I need to check it on every program I have. Stories about Lizzie and the hat have a few silly graphics as part of the shtick. These can be a nightmare formatting wise. Again, I want to be ready. I won’t know for sure until I push it through Amazon’s machinery, but any errors I can identify now will make that part easier.
  • Blurb writing. (La la la. I can’t hear you.)

I’m probably leaving stuff out, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I’m hoping to take full advantage of the Halloween season for Viral Blues. I’m still waiting on a couple of Lisa Burton promo posters, and should have the last ones in time. This means the easy link for The Yak Guy Project will be replaced by one for Viral Blues. If you haven’t read Yak Guy, all you have to do is click that cover image in the sidebar. He’ll live forever on Amazon, but you’ll have to go looking for him.

I’m still considering a pre-release for Viral Blues. My results with these have been mixed. What is the current consensus with you guys? Do pre-release books gain your attention, or just annoy you?

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An update

My regulars will probably understand that I’m involved in a blog tour right now. I’ve been sweeping through those posts like a madman and trying to keep up with the comments. I’ve also been sharing them on this site, so if you miss one, you can link to it from here.

I garnered a couple of awesome reviews, and books are selling. As a new publication, I can always use more sales and reviews. Fingers crossed that the remaining tour posts will net some more folks next week. There aren’t many left, but they are productive locations.

I got a notice from Stumbleupon that some of my posts are being shared. Both Flipboard and Stumbleupon are kind of odd ducks. Either of them can cause a post to go crazy, but they have an odd rule to keep in mind. They don’t want you only sharing your own content. If you do, they’ll filter you back.

This filter is all run by bots of some kind, so they don’t know what the content involves, just what blog I shared it from. When I checked out the notice, the Stumbleupon action was about my blog tour posts, but only because I shared the host’s post and not my own. Kind of a cool trick. I’m in the habit of sharing other posts from my friends, so I don’t get filtered now.

If you got some action from SU, that could have been because of me this week.

Yesterday, I did some minimal yard work, and still need to work on the sprinkler system. The dogs got to chase the squirrel. Well, Otto likes to chase him, Frankie likes to chase Otto.

They’ve gotten so attuned to the squirrel that we have to be careful saying the word. We moved on to rodent, and now they know that too. I’ve taken to referring to the arboreal mammal.

Yesterday, Frankie spotted him and put her feet on the sliding glass door. Then she checked for Otto. When I got up, the squirrel was perched on the fence, and looking toward her in the house. I swear the squirrel is into it too and wanted me to let them out. End result, everyone is crazy and happy.

We even managed a cheap date night last night.

Today, I dealt with three more Lisa interviews. I really want to get back to my WIP, but by putting it off, it freed me up for my release, tour, and some of my blog duties. I’m hoping to return to my story next month.

I also wrote my next post for Story Empire and got it scheduled today. I consider it a fairly productive weekend. Tomorrow will be all about calling my parents and working on that sprinkler system.

Hope all of you are having a great weekend.

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A small chores update

Honestly, I'm starting to wear out on chores. I've been away from the paycheck job since Wednesday at quitting time, and don't have to go back until Tuesday. During that time, I've hit the chore list hard.

I'm not embarrassed to say I didn't get as much accomplished today. I managed to get my critique work done for our meeting on Thursday night. I put it in my truck, because that's my insurance policy against forgetting it when I need it.

What I didn't post about was pruning fruit trees. The sap is up now, so I stopped at about 2/3 to 3/4 of what I want to remove. After the trees adjust, I can trim the rest. They're all in a big pile in the back yard, and my son and I are hauling them to the dump tomorrow. Part of the peach tree must weigh 400 pounds, so I'm glad to have an extra back involved. This stuff takes time too, but it didn't do much to advance my author agenda.

Today, I worked on my beta reading project. I'm about 2/3 of the way finished now. If everything works out well, I may finish and deliver my notes tomorrow. (Maybe)

I also assembled and scheduled Thursday's Lisa Burton Radio. I have two other interviews out there in cyberspace, but it's Sunday night and the first guy finished became the first guy scheduled.

Honestly, I could have hit it hard and finished everything else, but I'm wearing a bit thin. I caught up with recordings of S.H.I.E.L.D., and don't regret it a bit. ABC scheduled this beyond reality for a working man, so I have to record the episodes and watch them later.

My other son and I also stayed up late every night playing Diablo III, and we had a great time. I think my wife is wearing out on us, but she's the one who surprised me with an X-Box. (So there.)

My so called vacation was a lot of work, mixed in with a bit of fun. We even worked two date nights into the mix. The good news is my path is cleared, or will be very soon, and my next day off may let me work on my novel.

Hope all of you had a Happy Easter.

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Wearing down today

I backed up and read the stuff I wrote yesterday on my novel. This is something I always do before writing. It's reasonable, and flows well enough. I managed to hack out maybe six pages total.

I know I've been at it for days, and I might be fading a bit. I feel good about using my time well, and I accomplished quite a bit, so no complaints. I wrote about +/- 28 pages in three days. I should have tracked word count, but I just didn't this time.

I took some time to thin Asian and European pears before it got too hot. God those Asian pears set a lot of fruit. None of it will grow if I don't remove about 80% of it.

I also removed some fire blight on the European tree. It's supposed to be a resistant variety, but fire blight is bad stuff, so I removed it anyway.

Mostly, I spent the day finishing the book I've been reading. This one took me a long time, and that's not the fault of the book. I only get limited quality time, and then have to allocate it to writing or reading.

I may drag my feet before picking up another book to read. I need to finish some writing projects, and I have others screaming at me from the back of my mind. Whatever I read next is likely to be a short story or novella on a camp out.

All told, it was a pretty good staycation. I have to pick my wife up at the Boise airport late tonight, and assume tomorrow will be filled with distractions.

It looks like most of you have lives. The Internet was pretty quiet today, and I hope you all got to do something fun.

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The day I ruined the planet

Old What's Her Face* wanted to buy into a program one of the local franchises offers. Zamzow's is a store that's part feed store, part nursery, part garden center, and part pet store. If you need goldfish, fertilizer, petunias, or baby chicks they have them.

She likes the idea of seasonal applications of various things to make our yard pretty. (All of which Zamzow's will gleefully email her about at the correct time.) We picked out our Springtime fertilizer pellets. Of course she also needed some metal flower looking things to stick in her flower bed. Oh, and some pre-emergent crabgrass killer, plus some stuff to kill off the clover that's been slowly taking over our yard.

I spent the rest of my day first exchanging the hoses I already placed out. Who knew there was a specific one for the front yard, and a specific one for the back? Obviously not me.

Then I had to turn on our sprinkler system. We finally have water in the ditch, and can start using it instead of the hoses.

My instructions were to spread the granulated fertilizer first. Then spread the pre-emergent crabgrass killer. Don't worry, my wife supervised this complicated operation.

My next job was to run the sprinklers through their cycle and make sure all of this granulation stuff got wet.

Only then was I allowed to hook up the hoses and spray a liquid weed killer over the top of everything. Now it has to dry for a couple of days to make sure the weeds are really angry. Come on, we know it doesn't really kill them.

After I completed my tasks, I took a quick bath and am happy to report the drain pipe didn't explode from all the chemicals.

I make no promises as to what this chemical cocktail is doing to the planet. If my lawn ignites in the next few days, I'll try to get a video for your amusement. A steel lawnmower blade, one tiny spark, a whole bunch of miracle chemicals…

I still remember the good old days when I could top-dress the lawn with manure and it looked great all year long. I still think it works, but I was wrong, just ask my wife.

I haven't written any new fiction in weeks. I feel guilty about leaving the Yak Guy to his own devices, and the short story incomplete, but not guilty enough to jump back in.

I would feel differently if sales were thriving, but that isn't the case. I'll probably jump back in sometime this week, but mostly for my own amusement. I really don't feel the need to get another book out in cyberspace any time soon. That will come eventually, but right now I want to take time to plan some camping trips, go fishing with my son, and probably place some fire extinguishers around the yard. Do they sell lawn insurance?

*Entertaining Stories; protecting my wife's name since 2013.

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The good, the cursed, and the entertaining

This weekend was supposed to be dedicated to Autumn chores, and a few small items to move my writing career forward. On the good news front, I got the hoses coiled up and stored for the winter. I also managed some blogging, and sent my critique submission to the gang to dissect.

I didn't get the furnace filters changed. The fact is, I don't have to change them at all. This is because I live under a curse. I've lived under it since high school, and possibly longer. Maybe high school is just where I first noticed it.

Maybe I'm being punished for some prideful act. I really don't know what it is, but the curse is real. It works like this: If I spend money on something I don't absolutely need, I will be punished in short order with a necessary expense that makes me wish I hadn't indulged.

We bought our camper, and immediately had to buy our daughter four new tires. Tires aren't cheap any more, even cheap tires aren't cheap.

We bought my wife a new car, let's just say the furnace filters don't need to be replaced. We need not only a new furnace, but a new coil to go with it. This stuff is like a foreign language to me. If the repairman said I needed a new warp drive or flux capacitor it would make more sense to me. The end result is financing more stuff that I didn't plan on.

I'm making notes. Life is a big part of the character arc in my next story. The fact that you cannot plan everything will be part of the story. (The later part.) Stuff happens, it's very realistic, and it ought to resonate with readers. I'll make it more philosophical in the book, and it won't involve a curse. If you can't break the curse, write a book about it. What else can you do?

This week has been a wild ride on the entertainment front. Glenn died on The Walking Dead. He's one of those I considered untouchable. There is a conspiracy theory going around the internet now that he isn't really dead. Yeah right, more like undead. Still, it was unexpected, dramatic, and delivered the powerful emotional experience of good fiction.

I got all excited when it looked like the grave of the Headless Horseman was discovered on Bones. I was lukewarm to the idea of a Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover, but it was great. The dead redcoat turned out to be General Gates, and it wound up being a fun story. A little Headless Horseman goes a long ways, and I think leaving it as a teaser was the right move.

It looks like the Reverse Flash is back on The Flash. It remains unknown whether he is good or bad. Special Agent May is back on SHIELD, and I'm glad for that. May and Colson are the main reason to watch the show. I expect good things ahead.

I've slacked off on Dr. Who. I really don't know if I like Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. I don't know, because I can't hear a word he says. The production team must have changed, because the dramatic music tends to drown out the dialog. I recorded the episode this weekend, and may get around to watching it. I want to, I just feel excluded from enjoying it.

I chose to record Dr. Who, because I watched Ash vs The Evil Dead. Bruce Campbell is back, and in a role that lets him shine. The show was hilarious, and I anticipate a great reunion between he and Lucy Lawless in a future episode. Hail to the king, baby!

That brings me to The Last Witch Hunter. We just got back from the movie, and it was wonderful. I'm not a Vin Diesel fan, but he was acceptable. The story is pretty standard fare these days. I loved seeing the Game of Thrones girl again. (Rose Leslie) It's nice seeing her do something more than trying to kill John Snow.

What pushed this over the top for me was the visuals. I saw things I never imagined in this movie, and loved them. Having a drink at Chloe's witchcraft bar became a bucket list item for about ten minutes. Then Vin Diesel burned it down. The “good” witch visuals were wonderful, even beyond the bar. Tiny scenes like a view of a florist shop, or the herb garden were creative as hell. ( So many mushrooms.)

There were a few nice twists and turns, and some great use of plants and payoffs. I enjoyed this movie more than any I've seen this year, and I've seen some big films this year.

There you have it; I'm broke, entertained, cursed, and inspired. Oh, and the hoses are all put away. How are you doing?

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